Saturday, December 26, 2015

Potage Crécy (Cream of Carrot Soup)

The reference of Crécy in the name of this cream soup (potage) is to Crécy-en-Ponthieu; a region in Northern France that is famous for growing, in their opinion,  the most tasteful carrots. The area is also know for a battle in the fourteenth century in which England kicked some French butt.  Anyhow, the French generally refer to cream of carrot soup as Postage Crécy.   

But that's not why I'm making this today.  I'm making it because my Papa inspired me to make it.

I've recently become a co-caregiver for my father-in-law; our Papa.  Papa is nearly 98 years old.  He has a hard time seeing due to macular degeneration, relies on  hearing aids to hear, and moves slowly but surely with his Harley walker but other than that Papa has 100% of his mental faculties which is such a blessing at his age.  He's also fortunate that he is still able to live in his home.

We were visiting the other night about the days when Lovey used to gallivant around France on a regular basis searching for antiques.  Papa shared a little story about a time Lovey took him along on one of his buying trips.

At the end of a long day, and fairly late in the evening, they checked in to a small inn in Beaune.  They were tired and hungry.  The woman who ran the inn apologetically let them know that the only thing she had left in the kitchen was cream of carrot soup.

Two men from west Texas weren't overly excited about this but they were hungry.  So they conveyed to her that soup sounded great.  She brought out two bowls of this extremely hot, creamy, orange soup and a loaf of crusty bread.  They ordered two more bowls each and with each order and praise of how wonderful the soup was the lady became more endeared to them.  French people (especially those out in the country) love it when you love them and their food.

So, with that pleasant recollection that Papa shared with me I thought I would place cream of carrot soup on the menu for Christmas dinner.

I don't have a saved clipping for cream of carrot soup but I do have a clipping for a cream of pea soup that I have posted here in the past.  This is such a basic French technique to make any cream vegetable soup, or potage.  In France a "soup" usually means the dish has chunks of vegetables in it; a potage means it is pureéd.

There's not much to it.  You sauté / simmer what ever vegetable you are going for in a broth.  You can add other vegetables that lend flavor and/or color.  So, this is what I did for the carrot soup.  I don't have any idea how their potage looked or tasted at that little inn so I'm just making this up.

I diced up carrots, yellow onion, a little potato, garlic and added a little dried thyme, ground cardamom (I wanted to use grated nutmeg instead of the cardamom but I was left to use what resources were in Papa's pantry) and lemon juice.  All of these were simmered in chicken broth until the vegetables were tender.

This is a really un-appetizing photo, I know.  I failed to snap a photo once I had pureéd the know how hectic it gets at that moment when everything is coming together for Christmas dinner and everything gets crazy (after 4 hours of very calm preparation).  After the vegetables are pureéd the cream is added, mixed well with the pureé and re-heated.

Papa does not have a blender so I had Lovey bring me my immersion blender.  If you prefer, as I do, a really smooth potage use a blender.  Using an immersion blender or a food processor  will give you a rougher pureé.  But the taste is not compromised.

The soup was a hit but most important to me (even though he didn't say it was just like his bowl of soup in Beaune) was that Papa loved it.   Mission accomplished.

Potage Crécy (Cream of Carrot Soup)
Serves 6 - 8

5 to 6 carrots
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1-1/4 tsp. fresh)
1/4 ground nutmeg (or cardamom)
1/2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup cream

Mise en Place:
  • dice carrots
  • dice onion
  • mince garlic
  • measure out herbs
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • measure chicken broth
  • measure cream
 Place carrots, onion, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and chicken broth in a medium stock pot.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Pureé vegetables and broth in a blender, in batches, until smooth.  Return pureé to pot and add cream.  Re-heat and serve hot.

No comments:

Post a Comment